cover image Sweet Memories Still

Sweet Memories Still

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Dutton Books, $14.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-525-65230-4

Several life-transforming events are packed into this slim yet fetching story. Shelby is annoyed when she's forced to cancel her birthday party because her grandmother isn't feeling well. On top of that, her grandmother's gift, an old, beat-up camera, rudely disappoints her. But when her grandmother's house burns down, Shelby realizes that all the things she once thought were boring and dull-family, memories and pictures-are the most precious. This book is neatly bracketed, first by Grandma trying to inspire Shelby to take chances; then by Shelby reversing the roles and trying to inspire that same bravery in her grandmother. Adult narrative occasionally intrudes awkwardly into Shelby's consciousness: ""For the first time, she saw that she could choose who and how she wanted to be."" This revelation is especially redundant, coming after the author so eloquently has spent the entire novel showing how Shelby discovers it for herself. Still, Kinsey-Warnock (The Canada Geese Quilt) continues to show a gentle touch in peeling back the small layers of life to reveal simple epiphanies. Harden's wistful pencil drawings add to the quiet beauty. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)